“How you should behave when you grow up”: a primer for your kids

November 1, 2009

in no manual for parenting

My 6 year-old, at the end of sugar high, launched into a campaign for something that he thinks my husband and I should offer to him and his older brother.

“A program.  A program for ‘How you should be like when you grow up‘,” he said.

“Mom.  I think you and daddy should give us a program so you can teach us what we should do when we have our own kids.”

“What do you mean?” I was intrigued, with caution.

“Well, you see.  You and daddy fight a lot. You don’t want us to grow up like you, do you?  So you and daddy should give us a program called What you should be like when you grow up, to show us what to do when we have our own kids.”

“Ooookkkkkaaaaayyyyy.”  I hesitated.  My mind was racing.  Tickets in hand to take one LONG guilt trip.

I admit that my husband and I fight.  Although we DO fight, I don’t think we fight more than an “average” couple, judging from my conversations with other women, both in real life and online. We argue in front of the children.  From the beginning, I actually made a conscious decision to not hide our quarrels.  I don’t want them to grow up with a pair of rosy glasses with regard to adult relationships.  That being said, we do NOT call each other names.  (Well, not in front of the kids anyway).  There is absolutely no physical contact during these fights.  And I make sure that the kids see when we resolve our differences.

Perhaps this has been the wrong approach? I thought to myself.  How much harm has it done?  Is it too late to undo the harm? Panic.  Don’t panic.  I am not sure any more.

Later when I put him to bed, he brought up the subject again,

“Mom.  It is going to be just a private program for us.  Well, if [his older brother] does not want it, you just need to give it to me.”

When in doubt, be honest with your children and treat them like adults.  I tried to take his words seriously without overreacting (which in itself was against my natural instinct…)

“Well, I think you already know what should be included in the program, don’t you?  If you know it is not good when mommy and daddy treat each other badly, you know not to do it when you have your own children.”

Taking a deep breath, he turned to me, looking worried,

“What if I still do it even though I know it is wrong?”

This is my 6 year old.  Wiser beyond his age.  An old soul.  Although I feel blessed, I feel inadequate as a mother.  There is no witty ending to this story.  No closure.  Let’s file this post under “There is no manual for parenting” and “I don’t know how to tell you how you should behave when you grow up because now that I am a grown up, I still have no idea”.


Robin November 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

I would very much like a life manual, please.
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Paranormal Activity =-.

Absence Alternatives November 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

@ Robin
That is an excellent, wise, idea. I am in need of one too. But if it is written by Dr. Phil, no thanks. 😉

Jamie November 4, 2009 at 12:31 am

I don’t know what to say here, except that this is quite touching.

Absence Alternatives November 4, 2009 at 1:44 am

@ Jamie
Hey, my sleepless friend. :-) You don’t need to say anything. By coming here, reading my nonsensical ramblings, and leaving me a Hi! comment is help enough. Thanks.

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